Who wrote the first opera? As opera became a sensation, the process of tracing its history back to a single work began; scholars have researched this question to find that the first such work appears to have been written more than 400 years ago. The work? Ottavio Rinuccini's Dafne, which was introduced to the world in 1597.
Italian composer Jacopo Peri is credited with composing the music for Rinuccini's opera, but it is widely agreed upon that composer and patron Jacopo Corsi worked with Peri to create the music. The opera utilized only a small number of instruments and incorporated recitatives that use the natural speech patterns of the voice accompanied by music.
It is probable the opera was first performed in 1597 or 1598. Much of the original score to Dafne has been lost, which means that the work cannot be performed.
Rinuccini wrote a second opera, titled Euridice, and again relied on the skills of composer Peri with additional pieces contributed by Giulio Caccini. The first performance of Euridice took place at Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Italy in 1600.
The opera was specifically written to celebrate the marriage of Maria de Medici to Henry IV, with several of the roles sung by Caccini's friends and family of Caccini. Francesca Caccini, Giulio's daughter and a woman who would go on to become a famous composer in her own right, sang one part; Peri sang the title role.
Caccini wrote and published his own rendition of Euridice but his opera was not performed until several years after Peri's; Caccini's work was not such a success.
An opera that came to play a significant role in the way words and emotions were expressed in a dramatic and straightforward style was L'Orfeo, composed in 1607 by Claudio Monteverdi.
Some of the earlier operas are no longer performed due to the loss of original compositions or copies of the work or are not performed due to lack of interest. L'Orfeo is the exception, however, holding its own position in the operatic world and continues to be performed in opera houses today.
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